The Moab Red Hot 55km proved to be an awesome experience with a deep field, and served as a fantastic way to kick off the race season. Annie and I rolled down there on Friday afternoon, grabbed some ‘salad bar dinner’ at City Market and retreated to our camp-site under the gathering darkness and impending rain/snow mix. We had borrowed two ‘super thick’ sleeping pads from friends which greatly elevated our comfort level throughout the night, and camping by the race start allowed us to be less than a 3-minute jog from the start-line. Throughout the night we were awakened numerous times by the sound of our rain-fly and tarp flapping in the high winds and when we finally awoke in the morning, it was to a gentle sprinkle of rain, strong winds, a temperamental stove, but a relaxed ‘frame-of-mind.’ Cold coffee was not ideal but surprisingly not ‘the-end-of-the-world,” and combined with some regular yogurt, granola, and a smidgen of fruit, provided a satisfying breakfast. We headed down to the start as the rain picked up a little more and I quickly found Tim Parr who had also camped at the start line with a few friends. We jogged together, talked about the weather, swapped out our race t-shirts, and awaited the start of the race.
|Start. I’m in center looking for my wife!|
As Chris yelled “GO!” we bolted off the line and I was slightly stunned to be in a race field again with so many people but soon settled into the comfortable pace up the first mile-long-ish climb. There was a small amount of friendly chatter between the front-runners and it was great to be in the peloton with Dakota Jones, Ryan Burch, Tim Parr, Dylan Bowman, and others. At the top of the climb and the beginning of a long downhill section, the pace ratcheted up quickly, and I was no longer a factor in this race. I just could not run as fast as those guys on the downhill. Not even close. My legs felt stiff and tight and ‘decidedly’ not free. I settled in and was shocked with so many guys ahead of me and numerous others coming by me as we made our way to mile 5 and 6. All I could do was run my own race and try not to have too much of a mental letdown from sitting in 15th or 16th place. Stunned indeed, but the main mission remained; to get in a long, hard effort.
The course winds its way up to a rim with some technical running where I felt very comfortable. Here I also noticed that I was running fast on the uphills… a good bit faster than the group of guys I was around, but they were even with me on the flats and faster than me on the downs. I did have the feeling that it could end up being a long day, but kept plowing ahead. My mind was doing okay and generally I was excited to be running in the desert again despite the heavy winds and light rain. I love running in this area and was happy to be doing it again. I kept plugging along until the mile 17 aid station (approximately 2:12 into the race for me) and I noticed I was beginning to feel a fair bit better. The course rolls along for another mile or two and at mile 20 it again begins to get technical and steep. At this point, climbing up to the top of another rim, I felt the switch flip on. My legs began to feel much more free and springy, my mind felt substantially more focused, and my lungs opened up to where my breathing became non-existent. I also stopped coughing at this point which was plaguing me every 5 minutes or so in the first half of the race. (Lifestyle cough from Nordic skiing).
|At the finish with buddy Ryan Burch. (3rd in 4:10)
The recovery started right away with a serving of First Endurance Ultragen, a bit of food and water, and a pleasant hour with the guys. I will fondly remember hanging out with Burch, Jones, Parr, Bowman and others at the finish line. We also were able to chat with Darcy Africa, Krissy Moehl, the legend Roch Horton, Erik Storheim, and Bryon Powell from iRunFar.com. Annie and I both stated as we pulled away that we are grateful to know such a tremendous group of people in this ultra-running community. Great job all. Looking forward to many more races this season. Feeling fit, fresh, and charged up for the spring time. Here’s to a great end of February and beginning of spring for all.
Live well. Train well. DC